Recently Featured Essays:  

Kindness

by Sharon Frame Gay

According to legend, angels are mystical, ethereal beings with feathered wings, gauzy gowns, and Mona Lisa smiles. They perform miracles from afar, gently pulling on the strings of our lives to veer us out of oncoming traffic, heal our sick children, or act as messengers for our prayers.

But I have learned that there are angels who fly much closer to the ground, touching our hearts with their kindness in unforgettable ways.

One such lesson arrived on a cold January day, the kind of day when even God was snuggled under blankets, sipping cocoa. He must have fallen asleep on His watch, because the winter skies cracked open with a ticker tape parade of snow, inches upon inches falling on our neighborhood. There was no filter to this storm, but rather a winter snowfall of such abandon that the dog could barely navigate his daily rounds. Absent intriguing scents, snow to his belly, he begged to come in and stretch out by the fire.

My husband, Ben, was huddled under two quilts, shivering. Radiation to his brain left his body regulating devices askew, and he was just shy of hypothermia. We both kept our fingers crossed that the power wouldn’t go out, a common occurrence in our neck of the woods. 

Read: "Kindness"

 

Hidden in Plain Sight

by Kirk Boys

Don’s group home is painted the same yellow as a sunflower. And it strikes me as odd that a place that holds so much sorrow within would be so bright on the outside. To see it you need to be willing to get off the main road. You need to know where to turn.

I volunteer for the library. My job: select and deliver books to people who can’t make it in on their own. My client, Don, is one of those people. He lives near Renton, Washington. There is no sign; you have to know where to turn off the county road, maneuver down a long, steep driveway at the bottom of which you take a sharp right, and the group home is there, hidden in plain sight.

Four other people live with Don. His caregivers are all from the Philippines and they are very good at what they do from what I can tell. The other residents at the sunflower colored house are there, like Don, for medical reasons. They all require full-time care and more often than not, this is the last place they will live. This past July, Don turned ninety-seven. My father would be the same age if he were alive.

READ: "Hidden in Plain Sight"

 

 

 

 

 

Paid by the Inch

by Michael K. Brantley 

I remember exactly where I was sitting — the next to last seat, last row, just in front of the door — when the Bantam rooster who taught our journalism class perched on the corner of his desk and began to squawk about his disappointment with our efforts on the forthcoming first issue of the student newspaper.

What a load of garbage, he said. Did anybody listen to directions? Do you want to be the class who kills The Phoenix? Mr. Transou was new to the school, and I think he even compared the pieces on his desk to dog turds.

Then Transou did the unthinkable. He said let’s read some of this crap. And he started reaching for manuscripts from his pile. There were grumbles as he shot down one piece after the other, mostly making the point that no one had put any effort into the assignment. I waited for my turn. People were doodling on notebooks, looking at the clock, hoping for a fire drill or bomb threat or something that would save us all.

I felt alone in my first year at the senior high school. Sporting a bowl haircut, a disproportioned body I was trying to grow into and Coke bottle glasses, I knew just one person in class — a girl I’d had a crush on since seventh grade. Everyone else was a junior or senior, mostly popular students. We had a couple of blonde cheerleaders, a couple of athletes, a handful of slackers, and some “popular girls.” Naďve as one could get in the mid-1980s, I didn’t realize that Journalism was a crip course. I thought it was a calling.

Read: "Paid by the Inch"

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